Two commands are associated with summoning your dog to your side: her name and “Come.” First you want to make your dog’s association with her name a positive one. Then you can get her to come at your bidding.
What do you do when people whom you respect call your name? Do you ignore them? Or do you look up, expectant and excited that an adventure may follow? You want your dog to be interested and excited, too. To create positive associations with your dog’s name, remember
- Use your dog’s name for happy interaction. If you need to medicate, isolate, or otherwise commiserate about something (a chewed shoe perhaps), go and get your dog; don’t call her by name.
- When you call your dog, have something fun in store. Shake a cup full of treats, bounce or toss a toy, or pretend you’ve found something in the grass. Be enthusiastic when your dog responds to you.
- Don’t overuse her name. No one likes to check in constantly. Give your dog some freedom to explore.
You should first teach the “Come” command as a sensation of closeness. Here’s how the process works:
1. Throughout the day, reward your dog anytime she chooses to reconnect with you.
Say “Come” as you reach out to pet or reward her, encouraging your dog to look up by sweeping your hands to your eyes. If you’re using a clicker, highlight this moment of togetherness: Click and treat.
2. After the dog understands that the word means closeness, command “Come” to get your dog to come to you. Gradually extend the distance and increase the distractions, working in a safe environment.